make better_mistakes


On my twenty-ninth birthday I got let go from the job I had been on for less than two months. I was hired on at a low rate to move files between servers, and I decided to write a PowerShell script to speed up the process. I improved productivity by an order of magnitude. As in, my project manager told me “the guy who was doing this before you would do in a day what you’re doing in an hour!” They were really excited to have me working so efficiently that they gave me a raise, and I was glad to be tweaking a shell script to do this. (Incidentally, if you’re in a Windows environment, don’t use your own shell script to do this, run robocopy.)

I’d been unemployed for a long while, and I was just glad to be working again. And on top of that I got to program a bit–sure Windows PowerShell wasn’t my preferred environment–but it was great to fix a problem with some code.

And then they gave me the call. I was working from home the day before my birthday, and I had ended up taking a long late lunch with my partner. I had a shell script running at home. I was on the bus home when one of the recruiters at the consultancy called me and let me know that this was my last day. I brought in my equipment the next day, and that was that.

The only jobs I’ve ever been let go from were ones I didn’t like that much in the first place. In this case I accelerated my departure from the project by doing the work very effectively.

“[Developers’] principal work is human communication to organize the users’ expressions of their needs into formal procedure. That work will be necessary no matter how we change the life cycle. And it’s not likely to be automated.”Peopleware, Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister

About a month ago, I started working as a web developer for Contour. This is the job that I wanted a year ago. This is the job I was hoping for while I was teaching myself Rails while visiting my family in Guangzhou.

I’m really glad to be working where I am, I like the company and my coworkers and I find the work challenging. I’m planning to take the steps I need to really level up in this role, including taking a nine-month night course on Ruby and Rails at UW. I’m finding it difficult to find the time outside my forty-hour work week to focus on self-teaching, let alone finding the time to contribute to open source. (My apologies to Ryan Bigg, I haven’t been able to review much of Rails 3 in Action at all yet.)

This struggle between work and life balance, it’s to be expected, especially when you actually have a life outside of work.

This weekend I turned thirty, and celebrated with barbecuing, beer, backyard reading, blueberry scones, and a new backpack. I’m beginning to figure out what I want to do with the one life I’ve been given, and I’m really glad to be working a job that I like. The weekends go by so quickly, and the workweek seems to move even faster. I’m blocking the time I can to learning what I can. And I’m really happy that I convinced myself I could teach myself to code well enough to be a professional, I think that it’s going to be a really satisfying career.